Edwina Dunn and Clive Humby, the creators of Tesco Clubcard, are joining forces with social media trendspotter Starcount, as they look to take their customer loyalty experience into the social media market.
Starcount, which aggregates data and trends across the world’s 11 most popular social media networks, has completed the full acquisition of the pair’s H&D Ventures business.
They will take a "significant minority equity stake" in Starcount and seats on the board as executive directors, with a focus on developing its analytics and audience engagement function.
Dunn and Humby sold their Dunnhumby business to the supermarket giant for £93 million. The pair began working with Tesco in 1995, helping the company use its Clubcard loyalty scheme to more efficiently understand what its customers were buying.
At Starcount, they are joined on the board by Christopher Carter, former vice chairman of Institutional Securities and now senior advisor at Morgan Stanley, who becomes chairman. He is among investors, who also include Artemis and Praetura Capital, who are finalising a third equity fundraising round of $5m (£3.3 million) for Starcount.
With the data analysis expertise of the new pair, Starcount will now aim to "unleash the potential of a new generation of digital ‘superfans’, the elite influencers of the world’s 1.7 billion social media users".
Dunn said: “Social media has thrown up an intriguing new hypothesis for data analysts - that networks are to a very significant extent driven and influenced by a very small pool of users, in a way that could never have been possible before the internet.
“This creates huge opportunities for both brands and their customers - to create a social loyalty currency which will allow companies to properly understand and engage their digital audience."
Dunn said: "Facebook or Twitter only understand the users in their network, we want to help brands understand their entire digital audience."
She said an effective loyalty scheme such as Clubcard was about getting people’s agreement to be part of something that allows them to obtain worthwhile benefits. "We strongly believe that social media offers the base to create more targeted and user-friendly loyalty relationships, and look forward to exploring this hypothesis with Starcount.”
She told The Telegraph that brands and companies tended to be poor at marketing to individuals via social networks.
“In a way, we’ve gone back to mass marketing - everyone gets the same tweet or blog. With the data that is available, we can look specifically at the people who influence others, and we can make ambassadors of them for brands and celebrities.”
Founded in 2011, Starcount publishes daily charts of the world’s most popular stars and brands, and their biggest fans. In May, it hosted The Social Star Awards in Singapore, a global awards ceremony for "the superstars and superfans of social media".
Drew Thomson, group CEO of Starcount, said: “Reaching the right audience is the core focus of any brand or star. Starcount is about unlocking the potential of social media to show brands and stars the secrets of their success, and identify the real influencers."
The Starcount Fan Charts app allows fans to be recognised and rewarded for their existing behaviour by earning rewards, badges, mentions or follows from the stars they like.
Starcount ranks and charts fans based on their individual social behaviour by awarding points for every tweet, share, view and comment about the individual stars they follow.
From Lady Gaga to Coca Cola to Barack Obama, Starcount says it identifies the biggest fans of brands and celebrities every day.